'1.4 Million Cases Daily': Modi Gov't Warns of Omicron Spread in India, Compares to UK, France

© REUTERS / AMIT DAVEA healthcare worker collects a swab sample from a passenger as others wait for their turn upon arrival at a railway station during a rapid antigen testing drive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ahmedabad, India, November 30, 2021.
A healthcare worker collects a swab sample from a passenger as others wait for their turn upon arrival at a railway station during a rapid antigen testing drive for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ahmedabad, India, November 30, 2021.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.12.2021
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India has witnessed two contrasting waves of the Coronavirus pandemic. While the country's handling of COVID in 2020 earned PM Narendra Modi global praise, the international media ripped into his government after the second wave led to the death of thousands due to а lack of oxygen tanks, hospital beds and Remdesivir.
The Omicron strain, dubbed as a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO), may have just 101 cases in India right now, but it has the potential to ravage the second most populated nation like never before, the federal government's COVID task force chief V. K. Paul warned on Saturday.

Projecting a grim picture, Paul claimed that if COVID-appropriate behaviour wasn't followed by the public, India could see as many as 1.4 million new cases per day.

Comparing the situation in India to the ones in Britain and France, where Omicron is spreading at an extremely fast pace, Paul warned that the South Asian nation's public needed to show some restraint and avoid unnecessary travel, shun Christmas and New Year festivities and wear masks on all occasions, particularly when going outside.

"If we look at the scale of spread in the UK and if there is a similar outbreak in India, then given our population, there will be 1.4 million cases every day," Paul said. "France is reporting 65,000 cases. If an outbreak of a similar scale takes place in India, then given our population it will mean 1.3 million cases every day."

According to health ministry officials tracking the trajectory of the virus in India, it is a foregone conclusion that Omicron will outpace Delta, which caused great havoc in the country in April and May this year.

Meanwhile, infections have been on the rise throughout Europe, despite nearly 80 percent of the population being vaccinated with at least one dose.

The UK is facing the toughest challenge in terms of infections and pressure is mounting on the Boris Johnson government to impose harsh restrictions ahead of Christmas and New Year holidays.
The United Kingdom registered 93,045 cases on Friday, setting a grim new record, as this was the highest figure since the beginning of the pandemic. France has seen a sudden surge with daily infections going past the mark of 60,000 in the last few days.

For comparison's sake, on Saturday, India reported 7,145 infections that were registered over the past 24 hours. But worrying signs came from its national capital, Delhi, which reported 85 cases on Thursday, its highest in four months.

The metropolis has registered 22 cases of the new variant since India's first Omicron-infected patient was diagnosed on 5 December.

Overall, the country has 101 Omicron cases spread across 11 states and Union Territories. The western state of Maharashtra occupies the top spot with 40 cases, Delhi ranks second.
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